An answer you've probably never heard.

Why should I put money into Facebook when it doesn’t get me any donations?

The real issue: whether you hire a full-time social media guy, contract with a consultant, or just give your poor development director yet another task, social media is an investment. And you don’t know anyone in the nonprofit sector who has told you they’ve hit it big with Mark Zuckerberg’s creation. So why bother?

Answer: you shouldn’t.

I know I’m in the minority when I say that. A lot of “social media gurus” will, in answer to this question, emphasize that social media’s value goes far beyond donations. They’ll tell you it helps people keep in touch with your organization without you needing to put together loads of work-intensive newsletters and reports. They’ll tell you it lets people share you with their friends, bringing in new potential donors. They’ll tell you it makes you seem more human, which will pay off sooner or later. They’ll tell you that you will benefit from it even if you never get a dollar from it.

All that is true, if you use it properly. But if you never see a dollar from it, there’s definitely a serious drawback to spending money on it!

But the reason you don’t see money from your social media is that you’re not using it properly. Having a Facebook page doesn’t cut it. Nor does posting little organizational updates periodically. Nor even does responding to people’s comments.

Social media is a tool, like housefile letters, email newsletters, annual reports, phone calls, and everything else you use as part of your fundraising apparatus. If it’s the black sheep child in the corner, it’s of no value to anybody. If it’s part of the family, if you do social fundraising rather than just “post on Facebook,” it can do a great deal of good. For example:

  • Facebook research can identify and connect you with literally millions of people around the world (or thousands right in your city) who are passionate about your cause, and would be thrilled to learn that you exist
  • Intelligently linked with your website and a smart email marketing strategy, social media can add dozens or even hundreds of people to your email list every day

So in sum: don’t spend a dime on social media unless you’re willing to do it properly.

If you want to get a better sense of what that might look like, I recommend this series of posts I wrote on how social fundraising works.